Halloween might not be the same this year thanks to the pandemic mess that is Covid. Even if you decide not to take your kids door-to-door for festive trick-or-treating, you can still celebrate Halloween in other ways. Most kids love this festive holiday that’s marked by costumes and candy, and parents can use the spooky fun of Halloween to get kids reading, too.
Books are a scream (in a good way, of course), but kids who say ‘boo’ to books might fall behind their peers in fluency and/or comprehension. Here’s how to improve your child’s comprehension using a festive and fun Halloween theme!
1. Start a Halloween Book Club
When the calendar flips to October, it’s time to embrace fall…and countdown the days until Halloween! In October, start a Halloween book club for your kids. Have them pick out books themed for this season to get them excited to read.
When kids choose their own books, they may feel more empowered and in control. However, parents that want to work on comprehension with their kids should make sure that kids choose books on the right reading level.
Halloween books can be nonfiction or fiction. Books may feature a favorite cartoon or story character, or kids may want to choose ghost stories or books that talk about the history of Halloween or spooky places. Mix up the books for a variety of unique stories for this fall holiday.
2. Create Halloween-centric reading rewards
If parents have set reading rewards for kids, theme the rewards for Halloween. Changing up reading rewards may get kids excited to earn new prizes. For reading comprehension goals, parents may wish to focus on understanding instead of time or page goals. This could be goals related to answering the key ‘wh’ questions: who, what, when, where (and how). Not sure how to set comprehension goals at home? Parents can work with the child’s teacher to ensure that goals are appropriate and fair.
Halloween themed prizes can be stored in a Halloween themed bag or pumpkin bucket. Prizes don’t have to be candy or anything sugary. Instead, let kids select:
- Halloween themed stickers
- Fun spooky book marks
- Wax lips or teeth (if these toys are safe for your child)
- Pencils or erasers (themed for fall or Halloween)
- Halloween books
3. Use Halloween-Themed Articles to Help Gauge Comprehension
Handouts featuring articles can help children work on reading comprehension, too. These worksheets or handouts also may include comprehension questions to gauge a child’s understanding.
ReadWorks offers several articles that parents can use to help their child work on comprehension, and these articles are all themed for Halloween. Articles are marked for grade-level and reading level.
4. Listen to the story
If your child is reading a silly or scary story that’s themed for Halloween, try to find the audiobook, too. Listening to the story—especially when the narrator is expressive and animated—may help them better understand the emotions or actions of the story. Scholastic explains that listening also can let kids read books that may be a bit harder. If your child is struggling with comprehension, listening to the story may be yet another learning resource.
5. Pair the book with the movie…or cartoon
Did your child select a Halloween book that was made into a movie or a cartoon Halloween special? Watch the show or movie after reading the book. While this might not strengthen comprehension in a traditional sense, it can be a fun way for children to spot differences in the plot used in the book versus the movie. Watching the movie or show can be a fun reward, too.
After watching the movie/show, talk about what your child liked about the book versus the movie and if the characters were portrayed onscreen how your child pictured them in the book. When we read, we often create our own images of a character; sometimes Hollywood matches those images, other times…not so much!
6. Cook Halloween snacks and treats to work on comprehension
Yes, a recipe can help your child with reading comprehension. Following a recipe requires attention to details and instructions. These step-by-step tasty lessons can be a great way to work on basic comprehension skills. Teachers Pay Teachers has several worksheets that feature recipes and include questions related to comprehension. Need some great Halloween recipes? Check out the Food Network’s Spooky Halloween Recipes for Kids!
For kids who really struggle with comprehension, parents also can utilize a reading app like Readability. Readability can help kids improve comprehension and fluency; a built-in AI tutor provides auditory feedback to correct mistakes and help gauge comprehension. Lessons are leveled to ensure that stories are a perfect match to a child’s individualized reading ability. Parents can follow their child’s progress with the Parent Dashboard, which provides up-to-date information related to a child’s reading level as well as the time they spent engaging in lessons on the app.
Parents may be a bit spooked about paying for a reading app if they are unsure of its benefit, and Readability won’t haunt parents with insane monthly payments for a service that doesn’t work. Parents can sign up for a free seven-day trial of Readability…with no obligations. Ready to try Readability? Sign up for a free trial today!